3Arts Awards

The 3Arts Awards express our gratitude to Chicago’s artists for their indisputable contributions to the health and vibrancy of our city. Every year, ten artists who live and work in the six-county metropolitan area receive unrestricted $30,000 awards in dance, music, teaching arts, theater, and visual arts. Artists may use the award in any way that makes a difference to their lives and careers, including paying off debt, purchasing equipment, hiring collaborators, producing new work, and saving for the future.

Profiles of all 3Arts Awards recipients are accessible further below on this page, or download an awardee list in PDF here.

We invite you to read two reports that compile reflections from artists who have received a 3Arts Award:

We thank our Award Partners and Community Award donors for their generosity in helping 3Arts support and advocate for local artists.

Selection Process

3Arts awardees are selected through a nomination and jury process. More than 100 artists are nominated annually by at least 35 anonymous local nominators--artists, curators, presenters, and advocates--who are acutely knowledgeable about the breadth of artists working in neighborhoods across the metropolitan area.

After the nominees have completed our online application process, five national, discipline-specific panels of jurors convene to select ten awardees from the applicant pool. 3Arts requires panelists to disclose conflicts of interest as part of the selection process. If a strong personal or professional relationship exists between a panelist and a nominated artist that might be an impediment to the integrity of the process, a full recusal from the discussion and vote is implemented.

In honor of the time and energy it takes to apply, all artists who submit an application will receive a $100 honorarium. 

We express our gratitude to the most recent jury panelists


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    Miguel "Kane One" Aguilar

    Teaching Artist Siragusa Foundation Awardee

    Artist, educator, and researcher Miguel "Kane One" Aguilar has been painting graffiti in Chicago since 1989. He founded Graffiti Institute in 2012, and in 2013 curated "Outside In: The Mexican-American Street Art Movement in Chicago" at the National Museum of …

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    Dee Alexander

    Vocalist Southwest Airlines Awardee

    Born on Chicago’s west side, Dee Alexander is one of Chicago’s most gifted and respected female vocalist/songwriters. Her talents span every music genre, from Gospel to R&B, from Blues to Neo-Soul. Yet her true heart and soul are experienced in …

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    Heather Gilbert

    Lighting Designer

    Heather has been a Chicago based lighting designer for 15 years. Recent designs include THE BETTER HALF with Lucky Plush Productions, RENT (ATC/About Face Theatre), and IMMEDIATE FAMILY with Martian Productions. Her work has been seen on many Chicago stages …

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    Monique Haley

    Choreographer McCormick Family Foundation Awardee

    Monique Haley is a graduate of The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in performing arts, specializing in jazz dance. Monique completed nine memorable years with the prestigious River North Chicago Dance Company …

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    Halena Kays


    Halena Kays is a founding member of the artistic collaborative, The Ruffians, former member of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care unit, past artistic director of The Hypocrites, and former co-artistic curator for Theater on the Lake.

    Halena is an …

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    Lanialoha Lee


    Lanialoha is a native Hawaiian born and raised in the Chicago area and third generation descendant of the first Polynesians who migrated to the Midwest. Her Grandmother, understanding the dearth of Pacific Island cultural and musical resources available in the …

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    Harold Mendez

    Multidisciplinary Artist Stan Lipkin & Evelyn Appell Lipkin Awardee

    A first-generation American born in Chicago to Colombian and Mexican parents, Harold Mendez works with installation, photography, sculpture and text to reference reconstructions of place and identity. His work addresses the relationships between transnational citizenship, memory and possibility, considering how …

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    Maria Vergara

    Painter Chandler Family Artist

    Maria Astrid Vergara was born in South America and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. Her mom sensed her passion for art in middle school and enrolled her in classes at the prestigious School of the …

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    Nejla Yatkin


    Described by the New York Times as "a magician, telling tales and creating worlds" and "a fierce and supple performer," Chicago-based choreographer Nejla Yatkin travels around the globe inspiring empathic connection between people and their environments. She creates solos, choreographs …

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    avery r. young

    Poet, Songwriter, Performer Merrill Lynch Awardee

    The recipient of the Meier and New Leader of Chicago awards in 2022, Chicago’s Inaugural Poet Laureate, interdisciplinary artist avery r. young is also an award-winning teaching artist who has been an Arts and Public Life Artist-In-Residence at the University …

2012 Judges

Penelope Dannenberg
Scott Lundius
Billy Branch
Portia Maultsby
Monica Hairston O’Connell
Teaching Arts
Cecil McDonald
Jessica Hudson
Jamie Topper
Ben Cameron
Marshall Jones
Carrie Sandahl
Visual Arts
Britton Bertran
Lowery Stokes Sims
Lumi Tan

More Award Years